From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : Tigray Crisis
Mains level : Not Much
The director-general of the World Health Organization (WHO), described the Tigray crisis region as the “worst humanitarian disaster on earth”.
What is the news?
- Ethiopia has been on the brink of a civil war.
- On Nov 4 2020, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed declared war on the country’s Tigray region.
- The Tigray region is ruled by the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF).
- The war was declared in response to the TPLF’s attack on a federal military base in Tigray.
Tigray Crisis: A backgrounder
- The animosity between Tigrayans and Eritrea goes back to the Ethiopian-Eritrean war that occurred between 1998 and 2000.
- It occurred approximately two decades ago was extremely brutal and resulted in the deaths of thousands of soldiers.
- The roots of this crisis can be traced to Ethiopia’s system of government. Since 1994, Ethiopia has had a federal system in which different ethnic groups control the affairs of 10 regions.
- The Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) – was influential in setting up this system.
- It was the leader of a four-party coalition that governed Ethiopia from 1991, when a military regime was ousted from power.
- Under the coalition, Ethiopia became more prosperous and stable, but concerns were routinely raised about human rights and the level of democracy.
How did it escalate into a crisis?
- Eventually, discontent morphed into protest, leading to a government reshuffle that saw Mr Abiy appointed PM.
- Abiy liberalized politics, set up a new party (the Prosperity Party), and removed key Tigrayan government leaders accused of corruption and repression.
- Meanwhile, Abiy ended a long-standing territorial dispute with neighbouring Eritrea, earning him a Nobel Peace Prize in 2019.
- These moves won Abiy popular acclaim, but caused unease among critics in Tigray.
- Tigray’s leaders see Abiy’s reforms as an attempt to centralize power and destroy Ethiopia’s federal system.
How bad is the humanitarian situation?
- Tigray and its neighbouring regions are facing starvation.
- There is an absence of medical facilities, no access to their own money due to shut-down banking services, ethnic and physical violence, and raids at the hands of warring forces.
- The government declared a ceasefire on humanitarian grounds but in an effort to break the TPLF in June last year, imposed a blockade on Tigray.
- This made it impossible to deliver humanitarian, economic, and medical assistance to Tigrayans.